What Your Lover Really Wants

Examining the desires of men and women, including the merits of one profound long-term romance versus short intense ones.

Happy Marriage, Happy Life

Why do so many men and women want to create a dream-team marriage?
Bella DePaulo
This post is a response to Get Married, Get Wealthy? by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D.

Happy marriage, happy life: A good marriage is good for your finances.
Save money by keeping your good marriage in great shape.

Sure, everyone who gets married wants to live happily ever after, no marriage problems, just bliss.  At the same time, do further benefits, in addition to being able to sustain marriage, accrue to marriage partnerships that become a dream team?  Does a happy marriage really bring additional advantages that add further to a happy life?

Yes, as Bella DePaulo explains in her PsychologyToday.com posting Get-Married, Get Wealthy.  There's financial payoffs to folks who live in marriages.  Married people tend to make, and also to save, more money.  In fact, the best way for single parent parents to rise above their money struggles is to bring in a marriage partner. 

On top of the financial benefit, more happiness, longevity and physical health tend to accrue to folks who live in a good marriage.  Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher summarize this research in their book The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.

Divorce, by contrast, can put you on the fast track to both and emotional hardship.  Investing in your marriage can have long-lasting happiness, financial and even health payoffs.  So here's a quick do-it-yourself marriage scan to remind you of five easy ways to insure that your investment in your marriage partnership continues to pay off with a happy marriage and a happy life.

First, how much fun are you having?  Couples who play together, stay together.  Couples who set aside at least some chunk of time each day to be alone together, even if it's a tired twenty minutes after the kids are in bed, refresh their connection with each shared smile and pleasant verbal interchange. Add to that a date night, plus some weekend fun without the kids, and you'll up the odds that your good marriage will stay in fine shape. 

Be careful though about how you spend that time.  If your free time at home goes to an affair with the TV or computer, turn them off and turn to each other.  To feel like partners in living you need time face to face, not just side by side or worse, back to back.

Second, how appreciative are you?  If you take each other's contributions for granted, the sun will not shine in your home as often as it could.  Focus for a day on checking the weather in your home.  How often do each of you give forth warmth, show fondness, say yes to each other, ask questions that convey interest, express compassion, hug and smile?  When positive energies radiate from spouse to spouse, the whole family benefits.  And sunshine is free.

Third, there's sex.  The best things in life really are free.  How often to you put on music, close the door, and have a totally fun time together in your bedroom?  Good sex is not enough to make a good marriage, but if sexual sharing is rare to absent, your connection may become fragile.

In the early days of the women's liberation movement, a saying grew popular. "Sex is a positive way of spending time."  Catch the word "spending" there?  Sex costs just time, not money.

Fourth, what's new? Both familiarity and newness strengthen partnering connections.   A new game, a walk in a different place, trying out a new way to exercise together, a new shared volunteer project...anything new enhances old connections. 

Fifth and last but not least, how skillfully do you talk over sensitive issues and heal after inadvertent upsets?  Healthy partners talk effectively about their differences, are responsive to each others' concerns, create win-win solutions, and have skills for healng after upsets that have breached their goodwill connection.  Check out your skill levels at the free quiz associated with my marriage skill-building website, PowerOfTwoMarriage.com.

So what's the bottom line? Living life in the bosom of a good marriage signs you up for great life benefits.  Protect your investment. Lift your marriage to the level of dream team.  Treasure the pleasures in your marriage, build the skills to sustain goodwill, and remember always to cherish each other.

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Susan Heitler, PhD, a Denver Clinical psychologist, is author of multiple publications including From Conflict to Resolution for therapists, and for couples, The Power of Two.  A graduate of Harvard and NYU, Dr. Heitler's most recent project is a marriage skills website, PowerOfTwoMarriage.com

What Your Lover Really Wants